Book club meeting in Massapequa, New York, January 18, 2013.

In promoting Baby Grand, I’ve done all kinds of appearances. Bookstores. Libraries. Assisted living communities. (Street corners.) But probably my absolute favorite thing to do is attend book club meetings. Sitting in a casual circle, talking about the book that I wrote and everyone read, and seeing up close how readers have taken ownership of the novel’s characters and how they defend them, fight for them, question them, hate them, love them. Hearing how someone was at the edge of her seat as Jamie plotted to escape from her abductors, how some were surprised by the ending, had guessed a few things, had a few questions, can’t wait for the sequel. It’s probably the closest thing to bliss with regard to being novelist that I can describe — other than that amazing feeling, when you’re actually writing, of being so swept away and in the moment that you don’t even know where the ideas you’ve just put on paper have come from.

And there are some things that authors can do to make their book club appearances even more memorable and worthwhile. Here are five:

  • Have handouts. Every book club has its own way of doing things, but many of them have a facilitator who runs the meeting. Sometimes you will be asked to serve as facilitator, as I was for the book club meeting I attended last night. As facilitator, I brought handouts for all the members that included discussion questions for Baby Grand, as well as my contact information (email, Twitter, Facebook) so that I could maintain relationships with readers. Even if you are not asked to facilitate, business cards or book marks with your contact info or perhaps information on your next book, including the publication date, can be helpful.

  • Bring a camera. I always carry one, although last night, believe it or not, I had forgotten mine (it was a long day). Luckily, one of the members of the group had one and took a group shot and emailed it to me. Local newspapers are always looking for news, and sending a photo of a local book club appearance is not only exciting for the book club members, but it can help spread the word about your book.
  • Bring copies of your book and a Sharpie. Many of the book club members will already have copies of your book that you can sign, but some will not, or some will have read it as an eBook and might want to buy the hard copy or perhaps buy copies of your book for their friends and family, so bring a bunch.
  • Sell your book at a group discount. I offer Baby Grand at a book club discount for groups of 10 or more. I find that, in addition to helping to sell books at the actual book club events, a discount helps to entice book clubs to decide to take on your book as a reading selection in the first place — because book club members are buying books all the time, they appreciate the opportunity to save a few bucks where possible.
  • Suggest a theme for the meeting based on your book. Lots of book clubs like to have fun the books that they read and truly make the meetings a night out for members. At last night’s book club meeting, in keeping with the “mob” storyline of Baby Grand, the theme of “Everything Italian” was created, and the book club organizer had asked members to bring wine, food and beverages that fit the bill. So there was pizza, mozzarella, tomatoes, Italian chocolates and pastries, cannolis, espresso. It was so fun. And delicious. And it got everyone in the mood for the book discussion.

My next book club appearance will be in about two weeks. Needless to say, I’m very much looking forward to it. I mean, meeting new people, sharing the excitement of your book, chatting, eating — what’s not to love? And this time, I won’t forget the camera.